Happens all the time, doesn’t it?
Each with a different version of what happened.
Parent hears the most effective communicator of the 3 tell the story.
Other parent hears the other 2’s versions… not sure who to believe.
Get kids together.
Go through the whole thing again.
As it turns out, more details are added, a different picture is painted, and option 4, the real Truth, then presents itself.
Thankfulness is experienced by both parents, as no one flew off the handle before getting the whole story.
Situation is talked through and explained. All 3 parties no longer feel “wronged” but instead understand Truth.
Which, unfortunately as usual, wasn’t even on anyone’s radar.
In the last week, I’ve had at least three separate instances where I thought someone maybe wasn’t telling the Truth.
In all three of them, I wondered about the character and credibility of the story tellers.
And, in all three situations, the “real Truth” turned out to be an option I hadn’t considered, with elements from the different perspectives, that made the situations seem True to the story tellers. But in the end, we learned we were ALL experiencing a “paralax” (visual perspectives from different angles that look different, even though all the different angles are focused on the same object).
Relationships get damaged when we level judgment and accusation instead of asking questions. In all of the situations, with all of the people involved, there were moments were I literally didn’t know who or what to believe. And several times I was fairly certain that someone might be lying.
Truth is, in human interaction, we are often so quick to judge that we get too much of our exercise jumping to conclusions. James 1:19 tells us, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and even slower to become angry.” One of the biggest dangers we face as Christians is being judgmental. We get this way by not listening. Or by thinking we’ve listened and have the full Truth.
Pride wants us to be right. And blinds us to options.
Love wants us to believe the best about others. To be patient, kind, not jealous, not bragging, not arrogant, not acting unbecomingly, not seeking its own, not provoked, not keeping a list of wrongs, not rejoicing in unrighteousness, but with Truth, bearing all things, believing all things, hoping all things, and enduring all things, never failing. (1 Cor 13 roughly written)
Sunday in Daughters of Sarah, we taught about conflict. The first step is always listening and asking questions. The goal of conflict is God’s Best…not being right. Fettering out what God’s Best is requires dialogue and Q & A.
Given what Love is in 1 Corinthians 13, I think we are wise to not jump to conclusions. I think we are wise to work Proverbs 12:16 (overlooking an insult) and Matthew 18 (talking to the person who might be causing the issue first, instead of going to someone else, then taking someone with us who has also witness the issue if s/he doesn’t listen) and be good listeners FIRST, rather than jumping to conclusions.
Thankfully, in all of our situations this week, we managed to fetter out Truth by asking questions and didn’t wrongly accuse anyone in a heated exchange. I can’t tell you how many other times I’ve blown it, only to learn later that I was also wrong…and the guilt and regret at how I behaved was awful. I’m so thankful, that I can look on a week surprisingly themed with lies, and smile and actually see God’s Spirit showing up in my own and my family’s behavior – FINALLY!! I was out of the way enough to let God do His thing. I can’t take credit, however, as it was fully the work of the Spirit. What was glorious and honoring to God, was in one of the situations, we had one of my kids apologize for a wrong he didn’t even commit, just because at that point in time, we thought he had been involved – he wasn’t sure if he had, but his attitude about making things right to heal another was just lovely. And we apologized to him when we finally learned what was True. But no one yelled at anyone, no one said words they wished they hadn’t, and searching for and finding His Truth set us all free.
Dare you today to EXTEND GRACE when you feel you’ve been wronged. Even if it looks obvious to you that you’ve been assaulted. Double Dog Dare you to ASK QUESTIONS and be a good listener. SEARCH for the Truth, remembering that the other guy doesn’t want you to have it, just so he can keep your relationships messed up. And finally, Triple Dog Dare you to APOLOGIZE when you are wrong. Pride and the other guy don’t want you to, but it is absolutely the salve that is needed to help others move on, and for you to lose the guilt baggage.
The single most important thing I’ve learned in the last ten years is this: I can tell how much Jesus is in me if when faced with conflict, am I getting angry, or am I searching for the Truth, and trying to help people heal.
I still get angry and defensive. Too often.
But this last week, I had a glimpse of Him in me. And it gave me hope that He IS changing me – and the peace I have with my family and how we internally handled these things makes me smile. I see Him in them, too.
And know that we’re not proud of any of this, just thankful for Him. Thankful He changes people. Overflowing with gratitude that He can live grace out in the day to day in a family who is as ordinary and ridden with conflict opportunities as anyone else’s. Thankful that together, once in a while, He shows up through us.
And that’s where we are today. I know as sure as I know I’m sitting here writing this right now, that in a year, everything could be different. We’re all capable of walking away from Him. I wish with every fiber of my being that wasn’t true, but unfortunately it is. Dear God, may it never happen to any of us.
Privileged to be on the journey with you…
Love to you,